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How Not to Get Lost in the Variety of UK Schools: Comprehensive Guide

Many loving parents are wondering how to select a school for their kids in the UK. However, this is not an easy question because there are plenty of available options. Types of schools in England are divided primarily into private (or independent) and public (state-funded or maintained). There is also a division into day-time and boarding schools. Unfortunately, this is only a top of the mountain, and we recommend to carefully study the topic in detail with us.


Types of Schools in England: Public and Private

English children start attending school at the age of 4 and finish at 18 y.o. Both public and private institutions are divided into schools for boys, girls, and co-educational ones (where boys and girls study together).

Public establishments provide education in the UK absolutely free. Foreigners with legal status can apply for a place in a public school on a common basis. Approximately 93% of English children go to a maintained establishment. These institutions are divided into:

  1. Academies — public institutions directly funded by the Department for Education. Academies are not required to follow the National Curriculum but must provide comprehensive and balanced schooling that includes key subjects like Math and English.
  2. Community schools — a type of public institution, where local authorities hire staff, control the enrollment process, and own the territory in which it is located.
  3. Foundation schools — a type of public institution in which the governing organization has more freedom in running the school than in community-owned ones.
  4. Voluntary aided schools — state-funded establishments in which a foundation or trust (usually a religious organization) makes a donation to the building and has a great influence on the management of the school.
  5. Voluntary controlled schools — a public institution in which a foundation or trust (usually a Christian religious organization) has some influence on governance.
  6. State boarding schools — public boarding pensions that provide free tuition but charge a fee for accommodation.

Additionally, regardless of the type of ownership, secondary schools in the UK are divided into two types:

  •  Comprehensive — an establishment, which accepts pupils on a non-selective basis. About 90% of UK high-school students attend comprehensive ones.
  •  Grammar — an institution with a focus on academic results.


How to Select a Proper School Type in England?

Start your research by getting a copy of the school’s prospectus. In the prospectus, along with the curriculum information, you can get acquainted with extra-curricular activities, leavers’ destinations, the infrastructure of the school, the availability of sports grounds, places for painting, etc.

We also recommend you to read the latest report from OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills). This governmental organization monitors the standards in education and inspects schools to check the quality of education, the condition of the rooms, hygiene, etc.

Finally, check the school position in rating tables and follow your intuition. Good luck!